Chicago honors victims of gun violence on anniversary of Sandy Hook shooting

CHICAGO — Vigils were held across the country Friday to remember those impacted by gun violence.

The services fell on the sixth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which 20 children and six staff members were killed in Newtown, Connecticut.

At a Hyde Park vigil, speakers focused not only on the victims of gun violence, but also what can be done to stop future attacks.

“Gun violence won’t end because we pass one new law, but that can’t be an excuse for doing nothing,” Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker said inside St. Paul & the Redeemer church at 4945 S. Dorchester Ave.

Pritzker said gun violence should be treated as an epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 40,000 people in the U.S. were killed by guns last year — the highest number in decades.

“There is a call to action that we can do better by our country and community, and by our children,” said Mary Stonor Saunders with Strides for Peace.

Gwen Baxter’s son, Larry Harper, was shot to death in 2003. Baxter spoke at Friday’s vigil — noting that she always makes a point to say her son was killed or murdered.

“I don’t like ‘lost,’” she said. “I didn’t lose my son. I know exactly where he was and where he is now.”